If the title of GOAT is played today mainly between LeBron James and Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant is never far away in the discussions. For Scottie Pippen, the luxury lieutenant of His Airness, the Mamba was even a better player than the Bulls legend. An unusual opinion.
Since his title with the Cavaliers in 2016, acquired at the end of legendary Finals, LeBron James is in the eyes of some observers as the greatest competitor to Michael Jordan for the title of best player in the history of the NBA.
But this particular year of 2020 has slightly shaken up a hierarchy that seemed more or less fixed. With the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, many fans are nostalgic about his career and his achievements, and some no longer hesitate to make him their GOAT, or to place him second in this race.
Among his most fervent defenders is his former sidekick Shaquille O’Neal, who has a good case for anyone making the Mamba the greatest player in history. The same goes for Vince Carter, who said not long ago that he sees Kobe ahead of LeBron right now.
In fact, this growing opinion is perhaps best expressed by Scottie Pippen. In an interview for the Thuzio company last April, « Pip » said something that seems unimaginable coming from him: « Kobe Bryant was better than Michael Jordan.
Kobe would call me, talk to me, and sponge off anything I could tell him. It was amazing to know that he did that with so many great players. He did that in every facet of his life, whether it was afterwards to become a director, or to write best-selling books.
Kobe was a very smart young man, and he really believed in becoming the best player in the world. I hate that he wasn’t told enough about what a great player he was.
Kobe wanted so badly to become Michael Jordan. When I look at his highlights, his videos, I honestly think to myself, « Damn, he was better than Michael ». He worked so hard… And he went straight from high school to the NBA, he didn’t play for a college like North Carolina and for a coach like Dean Smith…
Everything Kobe Bryant learned, he learned by probing the legends of the game. As Scottie Pippen rightly illustrates, the legendary #24 was not fortunate enough to be trained by an equally legendary coach like Dean Smith. Which finally makes his career path all the more impressive.